For many years, gun rights advocacy groups in the US – and, to some extent, elsewhere – built their fundraising and outreach efforts, and their entire public stance, on combatting threats to gun rights. On a regular basis, money would be requested, and activists roused from their slumber, on the idea that the anti-gun lobby had contrived a new threat to rights and liberties – a handgun ban, an “assault weapons” ban, a gun registration scheme or a gun buyback. For many years the tone of gun rights advocacy was the tone of alarm.
But, even as the rhetoric of fear has still been used effectively time and time again, gun rights in America (and to some extent, in Canada and some other nations) have gradually started taking back lost ground, and even capturing ground that had never before been held by the freedom movement. By now there are seven states within the Union that do not require a permit of any kind to carry a concealed weapon (and many more states allow one to carry a weapons without a permit if one does so openly). Public attitudes in America have swung wildly towards the pro-gun worldview, and gun rights groups have sprung up around the world – in Russia, Australia, the Czech Republic, Israel, and so on – places that have ten years ago not even had a gun rights movement at all.
As I type those words, bills and lawsuits are winding their way through the legislatures and courts of the United States to expand gun rights in the United States in ways in which our movement could not have been considered possible only ten years ago. In Australia, a recent attempt at panic-induced gun control has just gotten derailed by a small group of liberty-minded legislators. Canada’s legislature is moving another bill to protect gun owners from its overreaching bureaucracy and take back some fraction of the freedoms that have been lost in the moral panics of the 90s.
At least in America – and arguably in several other countries – the gun rights movement no longer inhabits that era where the slightest lapse could lead to an extinction of liberty. Instead, an era has come where a serious and well-planned effort can lead to an expansion of liberty. It is time for us to come for a recognition that it is not gun rights that are under threat by now – it is gun control that is under threat.
And with this recognition, we should move to have a more truthful discussion with the freedom-loving public. Our message should now be a post-pessimist one – one when we rouse our friends and supporters not to fight a last-ditch, defensive fight against a collapse into the dark ages, but rather to fight an advance. We are winning, and we should act like it. We are now in a position of strength, and we should talk like it. Our tone should be now not one of fear – it should now, both in the legislatures, the gun periodicals, and the fundraising mailers, be one of optimism and strength.
Should we do so, we would be able to talk less and less about stopping anti-gun measures, and talk more – and take more haste in – implementing pro-gun ones. To speak from a position strength will reflect reality – and help us progress faster towards liberty.
We’re the winning team.
Let’s act like it.